Enterprise Unix Roundup: Sun's Line in the Sand

By Michael Hall (Send Email)
Posted May 5, 2005

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Sun's noisy product, pricing, and customer win announcements at its quarterly networking event left room for much head scratching. With Synergy, a single keyboard and mouse can control multiple computers running different operating systems.

Amy Newman
Michael Hall

For all the buzz leading up to NC05Q2, we expected this week to be all about Sun Microsystems. What we got was a collection of announcements that created an event as enigmatic as the hard-to-remember title of the quarterly networking event.

The week started out promising. On Sunday, Sun COO Jonathan "Just Being Quotable" Schwartz issued some grand proclamations in his blog, the most head-scratching of which was, "Sun's going to draw a line in the sand — on behalf of the entire IT industry."

It's now Thursday, and we're still not sure what he meant by that.

From our perspective, NC05Q2 (that's second-quarter 2005 network computing, for those who haven't parsed it yet) was all about maintaining: It spelled out the N1 infrastructure, revealed various storage pricing changes, and announced the obligatory customer wins. We put some of the sand in the strainer and came up with the following highlights.

  • N1 System Manager was introduced, and the N1 Service Provisioning System was updated. N1 is an integrated system that helps data center operators manage server and computing resources independent of the vendor or platform.

    However, due to an IPMI-related issue, for now, the System Manager will manage only Sun systems, specifically the Sun Fire V40z and V20z servers. The N1 Service Provisioning System introduces bare-metal OS provisioning, but only for J2EE-based application servers, Web servers and databases.

    The N1 System Manager will be available for download in late summer. The N1 Service Provisioning System is available now as a separate purchase and as part of the Sun Java Enterprise System.

  • The grid computing product family was further bolstered with the announcement of Sun Grid Storage Utility, and a sneak peek of its Sun Grid Compute Utility. Sun also announced the Sun Grid Rack System and the Sun Grid Solution, which include pre-integrated racks with flexible configurations for fast and easy deployment, and tailored services for architecting, implementing and managing customer grids.
  • For enterprises that want to "go grid" but don't want to do it themselves, regional Sun Grid Centers are now live and fully operational in Virginia, New Jersey, and London. Sun claims customers in the financial and education sectors.

  • In the storage arena, Sun unveiled the Java StorEdge Software and suites, which now have subscription-based pricing. Each of the four suites addresses a specific storage issue.
  • Recent customer wins with companies that service the government sector include GTSI, Tadpole Computer, Boeing, and the Department of the Air Force Headquarters Operations and Sustainment Systems Group.

So nothing either ground breaking or flame worthy.

What we believe was the most interesting news on the Sun front surfaced late last week, prior to NC05Q2. An article in Business Week sparked rumors that the vendor may be considering a leveraged buy-out. Sun denied it, and, as if to counter, on Sunday told the Spanish newspaper El Pais, "We have made some small purchases and we are going to make some bigger ones which generate more revenue."

We're thinking of one company that would make a good target. Its name also begins with "S," and it is bleeding cash right now.

Our final thoughts on the week, product announcements, acquisition fodder, and grand plans?

Sun may have drawn a line in the sand, but even the grandest of sand castles are ephemeral, lasting only until the tide comes in.

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